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Man breaks into Redwood City couple’s apartment, stays a while

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Man breaks into Redwood City couple's apartment, stays a while

A Redwood City married couple who had spent the night with family in Sunnyvale last month returned home to find a stranger in the kitchen, helping himself to a beverage.

The couple also noticed food and drink on the counter and the pungent smell of marijuana in their second-floor apartment on Veterans Boulevard.

The apartment had also been ransacked, with every drawer and cabinet opened and gone through. And the toilet had been used — but not flushed.

On Tuesday, 24-year-old transient Ian Brimelow pleaded not guilty to first-degree residential burglary in connection with the incident on Nov. 4, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

The Redwood City couple returned home from their night in Sunnyvale about 2:50 p.m. that day, DA Steve Wagstaffe said. After encountering “an unkempt” Brimelow,  the couple called 911.

Brimelow, who had a backpack loaded with some of the couple’s property, apparently became too comfortable for a quick getaway.

“The  defendant stated he had been in their apartment for a while,” Wagstaffe said.

Police officers responded to the scene and determined Brimelow, who has a lengthy record out of North Carolina, West Virginia and Florida, had entered the apartment by removing a bedroom screen, prosecutors said.

Brimelow remains in custody on $50,000 bail, and his case has been set for jury trial on April 2, with a pretrial conference set for Feb. 11, prosecutors said.

Political Climate with Mark Simon: 2020 election campaigning begins, but there’s more to say about Nov. 6

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Political Climate with Mark Simon: 2020 election campaigning begins, but there's more to say about Nov. 6

Clean Up on Aisle 2018.

Or, put another way, there are a few leftover items from the election to note before we move on to the 2020 election.

The 2020 election?

Why, yes. In the next presidential election, California will hold its primary on March 3. That’s a scant 15 months from now, which is why the candidates running to replace Jerry Hill in the state Senate are swinging into full campaign mode already.

Interestingly, or ridiculously, depending on your perspective, there will have been four primaries or caucuses before March 3 – the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary on February 29. In South Carolina, they know how to take full advantage of a Leap Year.

Eight other states will hold primaries on March 3, including Texas, which takes some of the fun out of being early. By the end of March, 23 states will have held primaries.

HOUSING, HOUSING, HOUSING: Looking over campaign themes from the November election, housing was a big winner, and you can expect a housing building boom akin to the office/commercial/corporate building boom of the last five-plus years.

Several cities – Belmont, San Carlos, South San Francisco, Menlo Park, Burlingame and Redwood City – are working on or advancing plans to build more housing on El Camino Real or in downtown neighborhoods, or in future downtown neighborhoods, or even in under-utilized light industrial areas east of El Camino.

But you also can expect a rethinking of zoning regulations that restrict the ability of a city to add housing. There will be more “up-zoning,” in which limits are expanded on a property so that units can be added.

There is a lot more space for a lot more housing.

NOT SO TOUGH: On the subject of South City, Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto objected to my description of the win by Flor Nicolas in that city’s three-seat race. Nicolas bumped incumbent Pradeep Gupta. I said Matsumoto should get credit for recruiting Nicolas and taking out Gupta. Not so, she said.

“Pradeep enhanced the Council’s presence with his calm and analytical demeanor and it was a pleasure to serve with him,” Matsumoto wrote in an email. “When current Mayor Liza Normandy announced that she would not seek re-election to the City Council, I recruited a woman, Flor Nicolas, to run for the ‘open’ seat created by Mayor Normandy’s decision.  All of my activities were in support of Flor’s candidacy, but never in opposition to any of the incumbents or other candidates in the race.”

Of course, it adds up the same way – incumbent Gupta is out and newcomer Nicolas is in.

MENLO, MY MENLO: An interesting note came into the Political Climate International News Center from John Woodell, husband of Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who lost her re-election bid to Drew Combs in that city’s first voyage into district elections.

District elections, based on the Menlo experience, are hyper-local. Money makes less of a difference and grassroots, door-to-door campaigning seems to be the new standard, a political imperative reinforced by all-mail balloting, in which every home is a polling place.

Here’s the note Woodell sent in to Climate: “Each candidate knocked on every door multiple times and spoke to these voters multiple times. … The word-of-mouth campaign seems to be 1) incumbents always voted for Facebook, and 2) council didn’t ask for enough in the development agreements, 3) that the general plan update was an up-zoning with no real benefit, etc..”

Woodell subsequently backed off on his own analysis, insisting he is no authority.

OH, THOSE RASCALS: Representatives with the California Apartment Association say they shouldn’t get credit (or blame) for all the mailings that targeted Diana Reddy in the Redwood City Council race.

Reddy won, which was a big loss for the CAA, but they say they only sent two of the mail pieces that made her look like a Visigoth ready to storm the ramparts. Others came from the California Real Estate Political Action Committee. I’ve heard as many as eight pieces of anti-Reddy mail hit during the campaign. I saw six. At some point, what’s the difference? They didn’t work. Or maybe they did, but not how they were intended.

The reality was that the message of the mailers may have reflected Reddy’s progressive politics, but they were in direct conflict with her campaign persona, which was calm, mature, upbeat and much more thoughtful than her opponents wanted to admit.

And, perhaps most importantly, Reddy gives every impression of being pragmatic. It is hard to imagine she is going to find any value in being on the losing end of a series of 6-1 votes on the seven-member council.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Congratulations to Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, my TV partner, for his re-election as Assembly Speaker Pro Tem, the number two leadership post in the lower house.

The Democrats now hold 60 of the 80 seats in the Assembly, which is what an impartial observer might call a really, really big majority.

They better get some stuff done.

Mullin, on our show, which started airing today on Peninsula TV, Channel 26, said they’ll have to wrestle with a likely recession. And there’s the pension shortfall mess to address. And a crumbling infrastructure. And the highest housing prices in the country. And immigration.

And a new governor, whose preference is for bold initiatives.

Fun times.

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

 UPDATE: This story has been updated to clarify statements made by John Woodell about the Menlo Park council election.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.

Seen Around Town: Check out the Photos from Hometown Holidays

in Community/Education/Featured by

The annual Hometown Holidays were this past Saturday, December 1, and it’s clear it was an afternoon filled with festive fun.

Hosted by the the Redwood City Downtown Business Group, Hometown Holidays happens each year on the first Saturday of December. This year’s celebration of the season included a parade, Snow Lot, photos with Santa Claus, entertainment, great food and a tree lighting.

Check out these photos on our Climate Facebook page here, and tag yourself or friends to share the memories from this fun event!

Terence Kyaw named Redwood City’s public works director

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Redwood City staff recommends transition to district-based elections

Terence T. Kyaw has been named the new Public Works Services Director of Redwood City, the city announced Monday.

The 26-year veteran of the department has been the acting Public Works director since June.

“With his education and experience, TK is well-grounded in the breadth of Redwood City’s Public Works operations, and has developed strong working relationships with Public Works staff and the community,” City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz said in a statement. “TK is solutions oriented, values collaboration and is committed to continuous improvement and staff development. His appointment will serve the City well now and into the future as we move forward with several major capital investments to support the community’s infrastructure needs.”

The Public Works Services Department maintains the City’s water, sewer, storm drain, trees and sidewalks, and streets infrastructure, and supports the city’s environmental initiatives and programs. Kyaw began his career in public works, working his way up from an equipment services worker to fleet manager before becoming the assistant director in 2012, according to the city.

“I look forward to building upon an already strong relationship with the local community to support public works operations, furthering staff training and professional development and providing the best value and quality of services to our customers,” Kyaw said in the city’s statement.

For more information about the Redwood City Public Works Services Department click here.

Redwood City Council approves salary increases for city manager, city attorney

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Redwood City Council approves salary increases for city manager, city attorney

The Redwood City Council approved salary increases for the city manager and city attorney on Monday.

In a council vote that was unanimous among the present councilmembers, with members Diane Howard and Shelly Masur absent, City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz received a 5.86 percent salary bump, increasing her annual salary to $295,006.

City Attorney Veronica Ramirez received a 5 percent increase, growing her annual salary to $251,606. Ramirez also received a one-time bonus of 5 percent, or $11,981, for “exceptional performance,” city staff said.

The increases are part of an annual evaluation of council-appointed positions timed with the employees’ annual performance evaluation, according to the city. Both Ramirez, who has served as City Attorney since 2016, and Diaz, who began as City Manager in 2015, received salary increases last year, according to city documents.

“Salary adjustments are made with consideration given to employee performance, total compensation relative to the City’s survey market of benchmark cities, and the current financial conditions of the City,” according to city staff.

On social media, community members challenged whether raises for top-paid city staff make sense given the city’s budget woes. The city just pushed for, and passed, a half-cent sales tax in the Nov. 6 election to plug projected city budget deficits. The expected shortfalls are in large part due to growing public employee pension costs, a crisis affecting cities statewide.

No members of the public spoke at Monday’s council meeting to oppose the salary increases.

In terms of salary comparisons to other city managers in California,  Diaz’s total compensation in 2017, including base pay and benefits, ranked 43rd on a list of 571 California jurisdictions, and third highest among San Mateo County cities. Diaz’s compensation was less, and in some cases substantially less, than managers of 17 California cities that are comparable in population or have fewer citizens than Redwood City (population 86,380). They include Palo Alto (69,721), where the city manager made $327,692 in total compensation and South San Francisco (67,082, $333,018).

Here are the 2017 total compensation comparisons for the city managers in San Mateo County below, courtesy of the State Controller’s office.

 

San Mateo County libraries now offer automatic renewals

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San Mateo County Libraries

If you need more time to read that library book or watch the movie you’ve checked out, San Mateo County Libraries is now providing it to patrons through a newly launched Automatic Renewals system.

All eligible items will automatically renew one day before the due date. The new system aims to help patrons avoid overdue fines.

San Mateo County Libraries along with city libraries (such as those in Redwood City) and the Peninsula Library System now offer automatic renewals on checked out items unless patrons owe fines over $15.

Those who entered an email account into the library system will receive a notification that lists which items were successfully renewed and which were not, if applicable. Patrons will continue to receive pre-overdue notices for checked out items.

Items deemed not eligible for automatic renewal are those that are on hold for other patrons, those that have reached their renewal limit (each city or college library system has their own renewal limit), non-traditional items and devices and items that have already expired.

Redwood City Council transition set for Monday, Dec. 10

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Redwood City Council transition set for Monday, Dec. 10

A Redwood City Council transition event set for Monday, Dec. 10 will say farewell to outgoing councilmembers and to swear in new members.

The event will begin at 6:15 p.m. with a reception celebration with refreshments at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Rd.

Outgoing councilmembers Jeff Gee and John Seybert will be recognized for their service. Newcomers Giselle Hale and Diana Reddy, along with incumbent Diane Howard, were top three vote-getters in the Nov. 6 election, which saw tremendous voter turnout.

The council meeting will follow the transition event.

*This story has been corrected to fix a typo in an outgoing councilmember’s name.

From left to right: Giselle Hale, Diane Howard, and Diana Reddy

 

No injuries when car strikes home in San Carlos

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No injuries when car strikes home in San Carlos

No one was injured, thankfully, when a vehicle was accidentally driven into a home on Elm Street near Magnolia Avenue in San Carlos about 5:19 p.m. Sunday, according to the Redwood City Fire Department, which posted this above photo on its Instagram account.

Both the building and car suffered damages.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

CHP: Driver asleep at wheel of Tesla going 70 mph on 101

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CHP: Driver found asleep at wheel of Tesla going 70 mph on 101

A Los Altos man driving a Tesla was arrested on DUI charges after CHP officers found him asleep at the wheel while his car, apparently on autopilot, was traveling at 70 mph on Highway 101 in Redwood City early Friday.

The incident occurred about 3:37 a.m., when a CHP unit spotted the gray Tesla Model S traveling southbound on Highway 101 at Whipple Avenue. The officers drove up next to the Tesla and observed the driver, identified as Alexander Samek, 45, passed out at the wheel, according to CHP.

Samek did not respond to CHP’s lights and siren, so the officers positioned their patrol vehicle in front of the Tesla and slowed down, hoping the “driver assist” feature would prompt the Tesla to slow to a stop. Sure enough, the Tesla came to a complete stop in the No. 3 lane of southbound 101, north of Embarcadero.

“Officers approached the Tesla and attempted to wake up Samek by knocking on the window and giving verbal commands,” according to CHP.

Samek finally woke up, was placed in the back of the patrol car and taken off the freeway to the Shell Station off Embarcadero Road at W. Bayshore Road. The other officer drove the Tesla off the freeway.

After a DUI investigation, Samek was arrested and transported to San Mateo County Jail, according to CHP.

“We cannot confirm at this time if the ‘driver assist’ feature was activated but considering the vehicle’s ability to slow to a stop when Samek was asleep, it appears the ‘driver assist’ feature may have been active at the time,” CHP said.

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